It is with great sadness that we publish Blackpool Council’s press release confirming an outbreak of Avian Flu amongst our beautiful swans:
Yesterday it was confirmed by The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) that 9 of the swans which had died at Stanley Park lake had tested positive for Avian Influenza H5N8.
The first deceased swan was discovered at Stanley Park on Sunday 15th November. The RSPCA and DEFRA were both contacted that day.
Public Health England has confirmed that the risk to public health is very low.
The RSPCA have been in attendance at the park regularly since and DEFRA removed a number of swans for further investigation and analysis. It was confirmed to the council yesterday afternoon that a number of the swans tested were positive for Avian Influenza H5N8.
We have been advised that the park can remain open to the public as the risk is very low, however, an area around the lake will be zoned off as a precaution.
The public are being asked to avoid direct contact with wild dead or dying birds and to report wild dead or dying birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.
There have been a small number of cases of Avian Influenza also detected in other parts of England. There have been a number of confirmed reports of avian influenza in wild birds including geese and swans in the Netherlands and northern Germany in recent weeks. These wild birds are all on the waterfowl flyway from breeding grounds in western Russia, where the H5N8 strain was reported in poultry in mid-October.
Bird keepers, including those with domestic poultry should remain alert for any signs of disease, report suspected disease immediately and ensure they are maintaining good biosecurity on their premises.
John Blackledge, Director for Community and Environmental Services at Blackpool Council said:
“The welfare and care of all the birds at Stanley Park lake is of paramount importance to us. The lake and the wildlife at Stanley Park is a huge part of our award winning park and one of the many reasons why it is so well loved by locals and visitors alike.
I am deeply saddened that so many of our beautiful swans have died and I know many local people will be too.
We are working closely with the RSPCA and DEFRA to ensure all appropriate measures are put in place and I want to thank all the officers involved for acting so quickly and reporting this to the relevant authorities.
I urge the public to avoid any contact with wild birds and to report any dead or sick wild birds to DEFRA on helpline on 03459 33 55 77”.
Chief Veterinary Officer, Christine Middlemiss said:
“Following a number of confirmed cases of avian influenza in England we have taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease.
It is important that bird keepers ensure they are doing all they can to maintain and strengthen biosecurity measures on their premises to prevent further outbreaks.
We ask that people continue to report findings of dead wild birds to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.”
Dr Gavin Dabrera, Consultant in Acute Respiratory Infections at PHE said:
“To date, there have been no human cases of infection with influenza A(H5N8) confirmed by the WHO and the risk to public health is very low.
Our advice regarding contact with wild birds remains the same – make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap after coming into contact with any animal and do not touch any sick or dead birds.
If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77)”.